The Kentucky Arts Council’s celebration of Kentucky Writers’ Day April 24 at Louisville’s Spalding University will cap off a week of literary events around the state that recognize the Commonwealth’s literary tradition.
The Kentucky General Assembly established Kentucky Writers’ Day in 1990 to honor Kentucky’s strong literary tradition and to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Kentucky native Robert Penn Warren, the first poet laureate of the United States and winner of three Pulitzer Prizes.
Current Kentucky Poet Laureate Frederick Smock will be among the readers and panelists at the Kentucky Arts Council’s Kentucky Writers’ Day celebration, beginning 6 p.m. in Spalding University Library’s Kentucky Room, 853 Library Lane in Louisville.
Following poetry readings by Smock and former poets laureate Maureen Morehead (2011-2012) and Joe Survant (2003-2004), poet Lynnell Edwards, Spalding’s associate program director for the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program, will moderate a discussion about Kentucky’s literary tradition.
As Kentucky’s literary ambassador, Smock urges all Kentuckians to celebrate Writers’ Day, no matter where they are.
“On Kentucky Writers Day, turn off the phone. Log off the computer. Do not turn on the television. For a few minutes, just read a poem. Let it sink in,” Smock said. “Follow where your mind goes with it, for you are the only authority on what the poem means to you.
“As with love, the feeling of having read a good poem can induce a certain inner radiance. The poem sinks in and transforms itself from words on a page to a deep interior shift. After all, we go to poetry not to find out about the poet’s life, but to find out about our own.”
In addition to the main event at Spalding, several organizations around Kentucky have organized their own Kentucky Writers’ Day celebrations leading up to the main event on April 24.
In Frankfort, Paul Sawyier Public Library will host a Kentucky Writers’ Day celebration featuring former Kentucky Poet Laureate Richard Taylor on Wednesday, April 18. Taylor will be joined by award-winning writers Leatha Kendrick and Jeff Worley beginning at 6:30 p.m. EDT. Local poets are invited to share their original poems at an open mic beginning at 6 p.m. Contact Diane Dehoney at email@example.com or at 502-352-2665.
The Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning will host Lexington’s celebration of Kentucky Writers’ Day with readings by three former Kentucky poets laureate – Gurney Norman, Frank X Walker and George Ella Lyon – at 6 p.m. EDT on April 23. Also invited to read are some of Kentucky’s newest writers from the University of Kentucky’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. For more information, contact the Carnegie Center at 859-254-4175.
Observance of Kentucky Writers’ Day in Murray is scheduled for April 23, at 6 p.m. CDT, in the Calloway County Public Library meeting room. The event is designed as a community gathering to honor Kentucky writers, celebrate National Poetry Month and observe William Shakespeare’s 402nd birthday. Families are invited to select favorite poems to read aloud. The festivities will also feature poems by Kentucky’s Robert Penn Warren, and current Kentucky Poet Laureate Frederick Smock. Contact Sandy Linn at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 270-753-2288 for more information.
Kentucky Humanities will present “Paint the Town Red,” another celebration of Warren’s birthday. During the event, Kentucky Humanities will announce an upcoming statewide literacy initiative featuring Warren’s work. “Paint the Town Red” will start at 11 a.m. CDT April 24 at the Robert Penn Warren Birthplace Museum in Guthrie. For more information, contact Brooke Raby at email@example.com or at 859-257-4317.
“‘Kentucky is a writerly state,’ Jim Wayne Miller used to say, and right he was,” Smock said. “Kentucky Writers’ Day is being celebrated across the state, from Frankfort to Murray, from Lexington to Guthrie. And in Louisville, in the Kentucky Room of Spalding University where I will be joined by recent poets laureate Maureen Morehead and Joe Survant.”
For more information about Kentucky Writers’ Day and the April 24 event at Spalding, contact Tamara Coffey, arts council individual artist director, at 502-892-3121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.